Sunday, February 19, 2012

John Quincy Adams: A Public Life, A Private Life by Paul C. Nagel

  • "In the United States, 'Publicola' [one of Adams' literary pseudonyms] hastened the opening of party warfare. Factions called Federalists and Republicans began dividing over the issues raised by Thomas Paines and John Quincy Adams" - 74
  • "His diary abounded with shamefaced admissions of wasting time or of reading to no purpose. What he needed, Adams now declared, was the diligence imposed by a regular schedule, such as one that would come with a seat in the legislature." - 134
  • "As he scornfully asserted, ordinary lawmakers, state and national, had one guiding principle, which was to 'be satisfied to provide for the occasions of the day, and leave future times to take care of themselves.'" - 135
  • "There are energies in the constitution of Man which a long protracted peace always weakens, and sometimes extinguishes altogether. Occasional war is one of the rigorous instruments in the hands of Providence to give tone to the character of nations." - JQA, 214
  • "With the capable assistance of Richard Rush, who had gone to London as his successor, John oversaw the negotiations leading to the Treaty of 1818. This agreement established the northwest boundary between the United States and Canada at the 49th parallel to the Rocky Mountains, and left the region beyond open to citizens of both nations." - 249
  • "His was a nature ordained to be darkened by worry, over his relatives and himself. Only a rare time of family joy, an occasional professional success, or, most often, moments of bibulousness could release him temporarily from his torment." - 256
  • "Without hesitation, Adams claimed that if the world adopted the metric system, the upshot would bring 'the foretaste here of man's eternal felicity. It would help cast down the Spirit of Evil...from his dominion over men.' If a permanent, universal uniformity of weights and measures was ever achieved, Adams predicted that those who brought it about 'would be among the greatest of benefactors of the human race.'" - 265
  • "His most important motive was an unalloyed desire to stand tall in history as a benefactor of the republic and of mankind in general. If the nation rejected him, Adams believed, he would be forever disgraced in history's eyes." - 285
  • "All of Adams' scientific and educational proposals were defeated, as were his efforts to enlarge the road and canal systems. A design to strengthen the Bank of the United States as a centralized credit authority and a plan to refinance the public debt were lost. His campaign for a national bankruptcy act was blocked, as were efforts to increase revenue from the sale of public lands. In short, a vengeful opposition was delighted to kick around almost every legislative proposal that hinted at Adams' determination to pursue national development through federal means." - 303
  • "The older he became, the more certain was JQA that his only assured way of benefiting future generations was by planting trees." - 367
  • "By 108 to 80, a gratifying margin, the House had voted to approve Adams' resolution rescinding the hated gag rule. Thereafter, petitioners who urged the abolition of slavery and the slave trade would be freely heard. But it seemed an anticlimax, given the far graver challenge of Texas." - 403

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